Visual Arts

"Chola Kitty Nueve Vidas" at AZ Latino Art and Cultural Center Mates Universally Loved Japanese Anime Character with Classic Chicano Cultural Style

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Such's Hello Kitty lampoon, executed in classic graffiti style with drips, swirls, tagging, and Old English typeface, is 180 degrees from the cute, mouth-less cartoon feline so beloved by pre-pubescents and full-grown women around the world. His version celebrates the cross pollination of the demure, Japanese Harajuku girl and the western tough street mama.

The unmistakable chola look appearing in Such's paintings has traveled far beyond the barrio. Even the likes of Angelina Jolie, Queen Elizabeth, and Pee Wee Herman have been cholafied in an online photographic series by L.A. artist Michael Jason Enriquez. The look is not restricted to certified gang members and their girlfriends anymore. Anyone can now look like a chola by following these few basic dress, hair and makeup rules: paint on your eyebrows, preferably in angry, unnatural shapes; wear upper and lower black eyeliner that would make Cleopatra proud, together with either obviously fake eyelashes or the same look achieved with multiple layers of black mascara; wear either black lipstick, or considered even cooler, just wear dark lip liner sans lipstick. Oh, and be sure to curl your hair, then tease-torture it to within an inch of its life, anchoring it for posterity in gravity-defying shapes with at least a full 12 oz. can of Aquanet. Accessorize with a bandana in the color of your favorite street gang, large hoop earrings and a miniscule tube top from which your ample breasts ooze. Many cholas will mimic their male counterparts for that androgynous touch, so baggy pants, suspenders, tear drop tattoos under one eye, and plaid flannel shirts are often sartorial choices for these home girls.

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Kathleen Vanesian